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Ram Lalla idol to be taken to Ayodhya
By Our Special Correspondent

JAIPUR, JAN. 18. First, it was the model of the proposed Ram temple at Ayodhya which rolled out of here around this time last year. Now, it is the idol of Ram Lalla. A 27-inch-high statue of Lord Ram as a little child, carved in white marble from the mines of Makrana in Rajasthan and laced with gold, is ready.

The idol in a sitting posture, poised over a lotus in bloom, and the palanquin made of seasoned rosewood from Karnataka forests, were moved out of here this evening after a recital of Vedic mantras.

The idol and palanquin would first be transported to Ayodhya to be presented to Nritya Gopal Das Maharaj, president, Ram Janma Bhoomi Nyas, before being taken around.

The idol, a gift from Chandresh Pandey of the Pandey Idol Museum here, would be taken around in Uttar Pradesh in the proposed ``Sant Chetna Yatra'' starting on January 20-21. This is the second idol of the kind carved for the purpose at the Khejron Ki Rasta workshop of the Pandey family.

By all indications, the idol would follow the destinations of the sants in their `yatra' from Ayodhya to Lucknow and other major cities such as Kanpur, Itawa, Agra and Mathura before reaching Delhi on January 27.

The first one, also created by the Pandey Museum, simultaneously along with the model of the Ram temple for the Maha Kumb, has left for the United States. Smaller than the present idol at 24 inches height - but an exact lookalike - the first idol had a small incongruity as the bow was placed on the wrong shoulder of the warrior-king and lord.

The idol shows Lord Ram with a benign smile.``This is his shanti-bhav,'' said Mr. Pandey. When he crafted the model of the proposed Ram temple, he had the VHP as his contact. In this case, it is the Ram Janma Bhoomi Nyas which has taken upon itself the job of building the temple at Ayodhya, which he is in touch with. ``I am not handing it over to the leaders but only to the sants'', Mr. Pandey said.

The 4 X 3 feet palanquin, made of rosewood, is the handiwork of Ravi Vaid of Indore. ``I am not interested in party politics but my father wanted to use this special wood, which we had with us since 1976, for a worthy religious cause'', said Mr. Vaid. The two long bars of the palanquin, which the bearers - five on each side - would hold are made of tun wood. The wood, known for its elasticity, is from Assam.

The idol weighs 208 kg, while the palanquin is another 125 kg. ``This is the biggest idol to be ever taken out on a procession. Before this, it was the Mahalaxmi idol of Pune,'' Mr. Vaid said. However, it is not yet known whether the same idol will be placed at the sanctum sanctorum of the proposed temple at Ayodhya. ``I made it with that prayer in my mind through out the six months it took me to create it,'' Mr. Pandey said.

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